With only a carry-on, packing for our one month trip through Europe had to get simple, versatile, and most importantly small.
The fees for checked bags really add up when you're taking as many flights as we are for this trip (not to mention with numerous airlines). There's also a lot of time and worry wrapped up in traveling with checked luggage, from waiting around the baggage claim (once you find it) to having your luggage wind up in a completely different destination. With all that, it was really a simply decision to take only carry-ons.
The first thing anyone needs to look into before picking out what bag to bring is the carry-on size allowances for each airline you plan on using. Carry-on sizes are bigger in the U.S. than in Europe, so make sure your bag still fits within their constraints.
Next, consider how you will be getting around. For us, we'll be walking from train stations to our hostels, so traditional carry-ons aren't quite going to cut it. I ended up going with a hiking backpack and I'm amazed at how much I can actually fit inside.
I went with a Deuter Act Lite 45 liter bag. It barely makes the maximum carry-on size for all our airlines, but seeing as its a pack that can be squished around a bit, I'm not expecting any difficulty with it.
Just wanted to note that I was able to fit all of my shoes and clothes in the main compartment of the bag leaving all the exterior pockets, and the bottom compartment open for toiletries, my camera, and electronics.
I can not recommend these enough! I bought them when we first started planning the trip and have since used them for 4 other trips and I LOVE them. I'm a neat freak so that might factor into it, but they are extremely useful for keeping all of your items organized and together. You can pack so much more efficiently with these, rather than shoving everything in one compartment.
They're pretty cheap and you can find them anywhere online. I organized mine by tops, bottoms, and underwear/socks. A total of 3 scarves, 8 bottoms, 7 tops, 2 dresses, 4 bras, 7 socks, and a handful of underwear made it into my bag, and even left room for some shopping.
Also they allow me to keep my clothes separated from my shoes, which I'm attempting to bring a simple variety of: Boots, sandals, sneakers, and flats.
Scarves are a really simple way to change an outfit from day to day. And when you are working with a limited number of outfits, a few scarves can't hurt. I also will be bringing my favorite chunky knit scarf for a few reasons; the first of which is that it will make a perfect pillow or blanket for the plane rides, second is that we don't really know what the weather will be like everywhere we go and a warm scarf can make a big difference.
I kept it extremely simple with tops that will match almost everything, and then threw in a few to mix it up a little.
Normally I'm not a dress wearer, but the fact is they are a simpler and lighter outfit to pack than multiple garments. I went with two neutral day dresses and something for our nights out.
Jeans are heavy and bulky so I had to find a blend of comfortable, versatile, while trying not to look like a bum. The weather is going to range quite a bit as well from one destination to the next so I wanted to cover all the bases.
Made sure to pack a variety of bras, and picked up a really cute (and comfy) bralette, tossed in some socks and undies, then a plain and simple strappy black bikini.
Again all of this fit into the main compartment of my pack. Also this is just a best guess at what I'll need. I'll update after the trip with what I wish I would have brought and what I wish I left at home.
As always let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!